Drinking is Awesome by Will Ringland

I offer this as proof that drinking is amazing.

Moral and Physicial Thermometer

The Moral and Physical Thermometer concept was first published in the early 1800s - specific dates are conflicting but it was closer to 1812 - as part of the first catalog for the characteristics of alcoholism. It had a few other incarnations, namely tis one (which is far better illustrated than [the original]), that purported to indicate the various goodness of Enlightenment Era drink. The idea being that one would be better served keeping their consumption of alcoholic beverages towards the top of the thermometer.

Why water hits a temperature of 70, I can’t really fathom why the numbers are what they are.

The original version appeared in a treatise entitled An Inquiry Into the Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon the Human Body and Mind (Ardent Spirits would be a great band name), written Benjamin Rush (another Benjamin!). Rush is a pretty fascinating person. He, like my man Franklin, was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, published both the first book of Chemistry and Psychiatry, and he is considered to be the founder of American Psychiatry.

Ardent Spirits, though, is attributed to the start of the entire temperance movement in America. The whole pamphlet is pretty fascinating. Rush, at length, identifies traits and phenomena of extreme alcohol inebriation in order to allow for better diagnosis and treatment. But Rush never intended the diagnosis of addiction to become a banner booklet in the quest to prohibition.

In fact, Rush pretty clearly states that his is not against alcohol in its entirety in the first paragraph on the first page of the document.

”Fermented liquors contain so little spirit, and that so intimately combined with other matters, that they can seldom be drunken in sufficient quantities to produce intoxication…. They are, moreover,… generally innocent, and often have a friendly influence upon health and life."

  • Benjamin Rush, An Inquiry Into the Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon the Human Body and Mind, page 1

Rather, like the image above, indicates that there are “good” drinks to be had. Like water. Or cider. Or wine and beer. At the time, alcoholic beverages were genreally safer to drink than water and was the primary liquid consumed on the Mayflower. Rush goes so far to suggest that you can help and addict through the detoxification process by switching them to beer, wine, or cider.

”By the temporary use of these substitutes for spirits, I have never known the transition to sober habits, to be attended with any bad effects, but often with permanent health of body, and peace of mind."

  • Benjamin Rush, An Inquiry Into the Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon the Human Body and Mind, page 20

Of his suggested remedies, this is the most human. The others? They include, but are no limited to,

  • Christ
  • Guilt
  • Plunging the body into tanks of water
  • Severe whipping (none of that half-assed whipping)
  • Bleeding
  • Terror

I… sort of wonder what terror would include but I actually expect it’s an antecedent to aversion therapy, which is another useful thing used for nefarious means. And I’m pretty sure many of the other treatments will lead to bleeding. And, as an interesting aside and final note, Benjamin’s Franklin death is attributed to Rush’s vocal proponence of blood-letting.

Temperance by Will Ringland

Reference.com defines temperance as:

tem-per-uh ns, tem-pruh ns: noun

  1. moderation or self-restraint in action, statement, etc.; self-control.

  2. habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion, especially in the use of alcoholic liquors.

  3. total abstinence from alcoholic liquors.

When Franklin laid out his Plan for Moral Perfection, his intent was to have each virtue would build upon the next and, hopefully, ease the acquistion of future virtues. Setting Temperance as the first in the list was intentional as, he believed, exercising his resolve would strengthen it and help support subsequent virtues.

I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits.

  • Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Chapter IX.

Temperance is unnatural; it runs counter to human evolution where safety and food were scarce and you needed to do what you could to maximize both. Nowadays where daily life is safe and access to food, pleasure, and entertainmaint is boundless, temperance is critical to maintain heath, weath, and wisdom. It would be easy to lose sight of your goal if you don't define some sort of scope.

Franklin included a description that encapsulated his approach for the virtue at the top of the weekly grid. For Temperance it read:

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Considering my own struggle with weight, and energy, and what have you, I think temperance as consumptive self-control is a good scope for me too. I tend to overeat, like last night after the gym, I ate about twice as much leftover chili as needed because I had not eaten since early that morning. I spent the night feeling bloated and loagie.

I tend, also, to over-indulge in whisky, especially if I end the work day with a drink. I lunch around 11 most days and get home around 6 after the gym. Drinking on an exercised body and empty stomach murders my resolve and I can too easily convince myself to have another. And maybe another. And that's where things tend to go really off the rails.

So. Minding that, the next week my goals will be simple:

  1. no alcohol on an empty stomach
  2. and no more than one, measured drink (4oz wine or 1oz whisky or 3oz port)
  3. stop eating before feeling full